Karenni Social Development Center
Building a new society for Karenni
August 2016 Newsletter
“The vision of the Social Development Center is to promote the lives of the people who have suffered human rights abuses, to teach non-violent skills to build up a new society, to develop the rule of law, to value human dignity and to protect the environment”
This month at SDC
by Principal Myar Reh
We have come to the end of another month at SDC. Despite the heavy rain, frequent thunderstorms and power cuts that we experienced during August, our students have been working hard and there has been a lot going on!

The 52 Basic Course students have been learning about the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Environmental Issues, the Rule of Law, Systems of Democracy and Social Studies. We are almost half-way through our Advanced Course and students have been improving their English and IT skills and learning about Sustainable Development, Research and Report Writing.

Advanced Course students also conducted research about problems in their communities and presented their results in the form of a report. Students worked on a range of topics including access to water, food security, education, health and even the black market!

On 9th August, SDC students along with many others from the Karenni community took part in Karenni Resistance Day celebrations. You can read more about this in the students’ article.

We were excited to welcome Danielle Navarre, a new volunteer. She joined us on 23rd August and will be teaching on our Advanced Course until December. We were very sad to say goodbye to Ciara Dowd, who has been with us since May, and we held a farewell party for her on 28th August.

In this newsletter you can find articles about the Karenni Resistance Day celebrations, a reflection by volunteer Ciara on her time at SDC and a short interview with one of the ACMTC course students. We hope you enjoy it!
Our new volunteer Danielle Navarre recently joined us and will be teaching on the Advanced Community Management Training Course until December. She is originally from the USA but has spent the last three years working as an ESL teacher in Shanghai. We're looking forward to having her with us and hope that she enjoys her stay!
An interview with Som Chai, a student on the ACMTC
by Emma DeVynck

Every month we will publish an interview with an SDC student or staff member to give our readers an idea of their interests, hopes and dreams. This month we hear from Som Chai, a student on the ACMTC, who has been at SDC since June 2015.

SC: My name is Som Chai and I am 21. I come from Karenni state but my mother comes from Shan state.
E: Can you tell me about SDC?
SC: SDC is very important in my community, because at SDC we will learn human rights, democracy, rule of law and gender. Some people do not understand human rights because the Burmese government protests the human rights. When I finish the Advanced Course, I will come back to the Karenni State, I will share my knowledge that I learnt at SDC.
E: What is your favourite subject?
SC: I like International Law and Human Rights and Rule of Law because they are very important for everyone.
E: What do you like to do in your free time?
SC: Sometimes I like to draw pictures, sometimes I learn to speak English because I want to speak English well. Sometimes I read history books, sometimes I play on the computer. Sometimes I sleep. (laughs) When I studied at high school, sometimes my teachers could not speak English, but now on the Advanced Course it is better. I like learning English, it’s very important for my community.
E: And you’re interested in politics. So you can use your English to help you there.
SC: Yes, I want to be a politician.
E: What is important for you in your life?
My life, it is important my family and my culture, Karenni people and Shan people. And now, I like politics, I want to speak to citizens. I want to speak English very well because I can speak to other cultures, and if I want to go to UN, I have to speak English. It is very important my community.

Karenni National Resistance Day Celebrations
by Thar Gyi

On 9th August 2016 SDC students, along with approximately 500 other people from Karenni Refugee Camp 1 commemorated Karenni National Resistance Day. This was the 68th year of the celebration, which always takes place on Nyar Moe mountain in Karenni State. There was singing, traditional Karenni dancing and speeches by members of the Karenni National Progressive Party.

Throughout its history up until 1948, Karenni State had been an autonomous, sovereign nation outside of Burma's national boundaries. Even under British colonial rule, Karenni State had a special arrangement and was governed by traditional Karenni leaders. After World War Two, many actors tried to persuade the Karenni to join the Union of Burma, however, the Karenni wanted to maintain their independence. On August 9th, 1948 the Burmese army entered Karenni State. The Karenni people saw this as a violation of their sovereignty and established a resistance group, which led to the conflict that has not yet been resolved. 

Every year Karenni people commemorate this day and hope that one day we can build a peaceful society that is based on the Rule of Law and that recognises the value and rights of the different ethnic groups that live in Myanmar.
Goodbye for now
by Ciara Dowd

It’s hard to believe that my short 3 months is up. In some ways, it feels like the time has flown, but in other ways it feels like I have been here a lot longer. The SDC students have made me feel a sense of belonging in the SDC community that feels far too strong to be earned in 12 weeks. Moreover, the incredible improvement in their English and management abilities in such a short time also adds to the feeling that I’ve been here a lot longer.

While I’m very sad to say goodbye, I’ve many small comforts. I am so excited for the new teacher Danielle to get to know all the students and about all the fun things that life in SDC has to offer. I’m excited about my next visit, and seeing how much the students’ skills will have improved by then. But most of all, I look forward to seeing all that the students achieve in their futures as community leaders. It’s hard not to sound cliché but their hard work, love for their community and bravery has been incredibly inspiring. I’m sure that the lessons they have taught me in these qualities equals anything I could have taught them. 

I want to thank all the people in SDC, and supporters of SDC, for granting me such a wonderful stay. 

Photos of activities during August 2016
Top left: Farewell party for volunteer Ciara Dowd, who taught on the Advanced Community Management Training Course from May - August 2016; Top right: students perform a traditional Karenni dance; Bottom left: ACMTC students practice their project planning skills; Bottom right: students outside the SDC Campus in Karenni Camp 1
About SDC

SDC is located in Karenni Refugee Camp 1 on the Thai-Myanmar border. It was founded in 2002 by three alumni of EarthRights School Burma (ERSB), who wanted to provide young people with the opportunity to learn about Law, Democracy and the Environment.

Since its formation, SDC has produced over 300 human rights and environmental activists. Coordinator and co-founder Aung Sun Myint continues to work with our team to realize the vision he set out with his fellow ERSB alumni in 2002.
Help us achieve our goals
To achieve the goals and the promise we made in our mission statement we rely on many avenues of support. Core organizational and project funding comes from our main donors. We are also supported by our community, local staff and volunteers from around the world.

All of us here at SDC would like to thank our core funders:

The American Jewish World Service
The Open Society Institute
Refugees International Japan

We would also like to thank our partners:

EarthRights International
The Curriculum Project
Mote Oo Education

We still need support to continue doing the work we do. If you are able to support us financially or with advice or expertise please contact us using the links below.

Copyright © 2016 KARENNI SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT CENTER, All rights reserved.